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Wednesday, 9 March 1977

Mr CHARLES JONES (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) -I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Has he been advised that the floating dock at the Newcastle State Dockyards has been declared unsafe and is no longer available for dockings? Is he aware of the serious effect this will have on the future employment of about 200 men who are permanently employed on the dock? Is it correct that 5 firm dockings which would have involved work valued at about $500,000 and which would have provided employment for about 200 men have been cancelled and that further cancellations will now have to follow? Has the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Wran, made repeated representations to the Commonwealth Government for financial assistance to assist the New South Wales Government to replace the now unsafe dock? If representations have been made, can the Prime Minister give me some indication of his Government's response? Finally, has the Commonwealth Government been considering making a special grant, similar to the Fraser Island grant, for the Newcastle district to help provide employment for the unemployed dockyard workers following the Commonwealth Government's decision to place orders in Japan for the building of four 15 000 tonne bulk ships for the Australian National Line? Can the Prime Minister tell the House what is the present position in this matter, bearing in mind that the level of unemployment in the Newcastle district is the highest of any centre in Australia?

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